Where are the best places to enjoy whisky pairings and whisky tastings in Edinburgh? This page has lots of information about where to go and what to expect.
A Scotch whisky tasting is an experience where participants have the opportunity to sample different types of Scotch whiskies and explore their flavours, aromas, and characteristics.
During a whisky tasting, participants are guided through a selection of whiskies by an expert or whisky ambassador who shares information about the product its production process, and the Scotch Whisky Regions they come from.
The regions recognised by the Scotch Whisky Association are:
Here are some key aspects of Scotch whisky tasting in Edinburgh:
Whisky Selection: A variety of Scotch whiskies are typically offered during a tasting, representing different styles, regions, ages, and flavour profiles. This allows participants to compare and contrast the unique characteristics of each whisky.
Tasting Notes: The whisky expert leading the tasting will provide tasting notes for each drink, describing its aroma, taste, and finish. These notes help people to identify and appreciate the distinct flavours and aromas present in each whisky.
Glassware: Whisky tastings often utilise specific glassware designed to enhance the aroma and tasting experience. The most common type of glass used is the Glencairn glass, which has a tulip shape that concentrates the aromas.
Nose (Aroma): Participants are encouraged to take in the aromas of the whisky by gently swirling the glass and bringing it close to their nose. This allows them to detect a wide range of scents, such as fruit, spices, smoke, or floral notes.
Palate (Taste): Participants will take small sips of the whisky, allowing it to coat their palate. They may be guided to notice various flavours, such as sweetness, maltiness, peatiness, or hints of oak, and to consider the texture and mouthfeel of the alcohol.
Finish: The finish refers to the lingering flavours and sensations after swallowing the whisky. Participants may be encouraged to note the length of the finish and any evolving flavours that arise during this stage.
Discussion: Throughout the tasting, participants are encouraged to ask questions, share their impressions, and engage in discussions about the whiskies. This creates a social and educational environment for everyone involved.
Scotch whisky tastings can vary in terms of the number of drinks tasted, the depth of information provided, and the overall atmosphere. They can take place at whisky bars, distilleries, or specialised venues dedicated to whisky appreciation.
Where to find whisky tastings in Edinburgh
The Scotch Whisky Experience’s Amber Restaurant offers whisky and food pairing experiences. They allow you to explore the flavours and nuances of whisky alongside carefully selected Scottish dishes. Located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
The Devil’s Advocate – A stylish bar and restaurant with an extensive whisky collection. They offer whisky flights and can guide you through pairing options with its Scottish and international cuisine. Located in the Old Town.
Usquabae Whisky Bar & Larder – A cosy whisky bar known for its extensive whisky selection. They offer tasting experiences and can suggest pairings with their Scottish artisan cheeses and charcuterie. Located in the New Town.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – A private members’ club that welcomes non-members to their Queen Street venue. They offer whisky tastings and events with unique single cask whiskies, often paired with curated small plates.
The Balmoral Whisky Bar, situated within The Balmoral Hotel, boasts an impressive whisky collection. They offer tastings and can provide recommendations for food pairings from their menu. Located on Princes Street.
The Bothy – A Scottish restaurant that features an extensive whisky selection. They offer whisky flights and can provide suggestions for pairing whiskies with their traditional Scottish fare. Located within the Murrayfield Hotel.
The Canny Man’s – Known for its eclectic collection of whiskies, this pub offers a cosy and traditional atmosphere. You can enjoy a whisky tasting experience and pair it with their classic pub food. Located in Morningside, Edinburgh.
The Whiski Rooms – A whisky bar and restaurant that specialises in Scottish cuisine. It offers whisky flights and has a selection of dishes that can be paired with different whiskies. Located close to Edinburgh OLd Town.
The Lioness of Leith – This whisky bar and bistro offers a wide selection of whiskies and hosts regular tasting events. They can provide recommendations for food pairings from their menu. Located in Leith.
Holyrood Distillery which only opened in 2019 lies close to the historic Holyrood Palace once home to Mary Queen of Scots.
During a whisky tasting at Holyrood Distillery, you can expect to sample a selection of their whiskies while learning about their production process and the unique characteristics of each whisky. Located close to the Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street. One of the relatively new kids on the block offering whisky tastings in Edinburgh.
There are a number of tutored tasting experiences available from this iconic Diageo brand including the luxury whisky and artisanal chocolate pairing. Located at the west end of Princes Street.
When it comes to whisky pairing, the distillery may offer specific events or workshops where they pair their whiskies with various food items.
Please note that availability, tasting options, and menus may vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with each establishment in advance and make any necessary reservations. Enjoy your whisky tasting in Edinburgh.
Whisky tasting is often combined with complementary foods or flavours to enhance the overall tasting experience usually known as a whisky pairing.
It aims to create harmonious combinations that bring out the best in both the whisky and the accompanying element.
Here are some key aspects of Scotch whisky pairing:
Complementary flavours: The flavours in Scotch whisky can vary widely, ranging from fruity and floral to smoky and robust. Pairing with complementary flavours can create a harmonious balance. For example, pairing a peaty Islay whisky with smoked salmon or a rich Highland whisky with dark chocolate.
Contrast: Alternatively, contrasting flavours can also create interesting pairings. The contrasting elements can help highlight different aspects of both the whisky and the food. For example, pairing a sweet Speyside whisky with haggis, salty blue cheese or a spicy rye whisky with a piece of dark chocolate.
Consider the whisky’s characteristics: Take into account the specific characteristics of the Scotch whisky you are tasting. Is it light and delicate or bold and robust? Is it heavily peated or lightly peated? Understanding the whisky’s flavour profile can guide your pairing choices.
Texture: Consider the texture and mouthfeel of both the whisky and the food. Creamy whiskies may pair well with rich and creamy desserts or cheeses, while crisp and dry whiskies may complement lighter appetisers or seafood.
Regional pairings: You can also explore pairings that align with the region of Scotch whisky. For example, matching a smoky Islay whisky with oysters or seafood, or pairing a sherry cask-aged Speyside whisky with dried fruits or nuts.
Experimentation: Scotch whisky pairing is subjective, and personal preferences can vary. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different combinations to find what works best for you. Because there are no strict rules, you might discover unexpected and delightful pairings along the way.
Ultimately, the goal is to enhance your overall tasting experience by discovering how flavours interact and complement each other.
Please note that availability, tasting options, and menus may vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with each establishment in advance and make any necessary reservations. Enjoy your whisky tasting and pairing experiences in Edinburgh.